BOISE, Idaho — Wildfire smoke makes up nearly half of the annual air pollution across the west and can have dangerous health impacts. A Boise business is using a unique material to give the community a breath of fresh air: salt.
When you first walk in the doors of Salt Sanctuary, you'll notice almost immediately how clean the air is inside--especially on smoky summer days. That's thanks to owner Christina Baylis' vision for an oasis of clean air.
Everything in Salt Sanctuary centers around breathing: it's a space where visitors can experience halotherapy treatments.
Halotherapy works by heating and grinding pharmacy-grade salt and releasing microparticles into the air. As the salt enters your system, it gently clears out anything that may be inhibiting lung function like wildfire smoke or allergens. Several studies have indicated regular halotherapy can improve lung function significantly. Baylis says it's an all-natural remedy for allergies, asthma, and general wellness.
"It is rather magical. It has all kinds of healing properties and is super gentle. We have a salt channel in every cell in our bodies, so we have salt in us," Baylis explained. "It's antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial."
Halotherapy originated in Eastern Europe and has recently begun to grow in popularity in America. The therapy also helps with mental health through a focus on breathing. Baylis says often we're stuck in the "fight or flight" mode because of shallow breath. By focusing on their breath for 45 minutes, visitors are able to reduce stress and anxiety.
"It's been around for hundreds of years, just not here in the United States," Baylis said. "All this energy is being drained from you simply by not taking deep breaths. We don't realize that. This is all about encouraging breath."
Baylis believes even the smallest detail can impact the quality of the air we breathe. Her space has a high-quality air filtration system and everything from the benches to blankets is made of natural materials.
Salt Sanctuary has officially been open for about two years, but Baylis has dreamed of creating a peaceful space where the community can breathe for nearly a decade.
"Everything we do for ourselves, it ripples out to each other," Baylis said. "The more kind and generous and compassionate we can be with ourselves and each other, the more kind and compassionate world we'll all live in."
It hasn't been an easy journey, but she says being able to have a small part in healing her community makes it worth it.
"There are stories of people getting off medicines or being able to take vacations they never thought they could, or sleeping well when they hadn't slept well in who knows how long," Baylis smiled. "When they leave here they're relaxed and rested. That's what it is."